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Much of Vindhiya's work is partially autobiographical. All her
stories deal with the domestic scenes, and in a way recall something
of Norman Rockwell's vision (with an Indian flavor). The characters
in these stories seem to be simple and ordinary people; but
it is their ordinariness that, occasionally and deliberately,
lets the reader glimpse a side that affirms traditional Indian
Anbu Manam (A kind heart)
This story won the first prize in a short story competition held by
Kalaimagal - a prestigious Tamil monthly - where the participants were
invited to submit stories with a given lead sentence: "The child started
crying." The story is based on a real incident. The narrator is a woman -
who has no children of her own - and has the insight of child psychology.
Kuzhandai Ullam (A childlike heart)
This story also won the first prize in a competition held by Kalaimagal
- where the participants submitted stories with a given last
sentence. Here the narrator is a live-in-guest of a young couple. The
theme of the story is a well known one - how old age may be seen as
a "second childhood."
Kaadal Idayam (A loving Heart)
One of the four short stories selected in the category of Tamil from
India for the International Short Story Competition held by the New York
Herald Tribune in 1950. Stories were selected from all over the world and
the finalists were chosen in US by the Herald Tribune. In India, as far as
the regional languages were concerned, the best were selected by some
popular magazines; those selected were translated into English and sent to
New Delhi where the editors of Hindusthan Times, a national English daily,
made the final choice for the entire nation and submitted their choice to
the New York Herald Tribune. Vindhiya's story was the second among the four
in Tamil and the selection was made by Kalki, a popular Tamil weekly. Kalki
featured the characters from 'Kaadal Idayam' on its cover when the first
installment of the story appeared in that magazine.
It may be pointed out that among the finalists that emerged in New
York, the second prize went to P. Padmaraju, a Telugu writer for his
story, "The Storm."
Vizhiyin Vemmai (A warmth in the eye)
This story is based on a real person, violinst friend Marella
Kesava Rao from Vindhiya's hometown Berhampur, Orissa. Everything
in the story is true - except that the narrator is a young
Kooppiya Kai (Folded Hands)
The main idea for the story came from writer's brother Naranan who
narrated an incident to Vindhiya and her husband during one of their visits in
summer to Bangalore. The discussions in the story about science versus
religion owe much to brother Naranan's observations on the nature and scope of
religion and science.
It is likely that the waiter Subramanian was modeled after a boy
from Kerala working in the South Indian Restaurant in Cuttack, Orissa -
owned and run by a friend of the family. Some of these boys lived
with the owner himself - and Vindhiya was quite impressed with these
teenagers who hailed from Kerala and, like other natives from their state,
showed considerable interest in political matters and regularly read magazines
and newspapers. It is a common knowledge that Kerala - then, as of now -
boasts the highest literacy rate in India. There is a popular notion about
Kerala that goes like this: 'Scratch a Keralite, and you will find a communist.'
But Kerala also boasts famous temples - including Guruvayoor - a fact
that didn't go unrecognized by Vindhiya and her husband who were both very
religious and regularly visited the temples in South India every summer.
In Subramanian, Vindhiya created an agnostic character who appeals to
readers with his warmth, affection and empathy for others.
Maatham Piranthathu (The
The story was published in Kalaimagal issue of June 1951.
It was part of the Kalaimagal feature series where two establihsed
Tamil writers - were individually invited to contribute stories
with the same title. The other writer for 'The month began'
was G.S. Mani; when the stories first appeared a few friends
of the family thought both the stories were written by the
couple - Vindhiya and her husband V.S. Mani.
The idea for the story came from her father when she sought
his advice. "The title would tempt a lot of people to think
of a story where the hero struggles with his paycheck every
month." he said. "You should avoid that stereotype and go
for something different." It was quite a prophetic statement
because the other story by writer G.S. Mani dealt with that
Uravin Inimai (Sweet Memories)
This is a kind of story where, one might say, nothing happens...
The crisis facing the housewife here is very mundane:
To wear or not to wear a particular sari. What's the big deal?
Should someone even care? A reader might be tempted to dismiss
this obvious feminine concern with a disdain.
But if that reader exercises some patience and tries to understand what
is going on, the rewards could be many: an invitation to probe
the inner, subtle working of human mind; how a continuous
filtering of events, images, and thoughts takes place from
a constant parade down the memory lane - all this with a balancing
act of a healthy and positive attitude about others crossing
our lives. It is like trying to untangle a knot - and at some
point, a murmur is heard: "I think I know what the hell is
going on . . ."
The process is certainly complicated, but
this miracle takes place in ordinary lives all the time. In
every decision humans make about this or that - several subplots
play their roles. The fact that the protagonist in the story
makes the right decision - it is a right decision because
nobody is hurt and everyone is pleased with what she had done
- owes to one source - a robust, natural, warm heart - something
common to all characters who people Vidhiya's short stories.
website by Divya Srinivasan